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Rachmaninov and His Amazing Hand Span

Rachmaninov and His Amazing Hand Span Music Biographies Social Studies Tragedies and Triumphs Visual Arts World History

Sergei Rachmaninov (Rachmaninoff) (1873-1943) was born on his family's estate near Novgorod, Russia.  He studied piano at an early age, but his passion for music really took hold when he became a student at the Moscow conservatory.  Composition was one of his subjects, and the young student discovered he had a gift.

Living in the home of his teacher, Nikolai Zverev, Rachmaninov was able to play for noted Russian musicians of the time - including Tchaikovsky (his idol).  The developing pianist had another major gift - his hand span.  His fingers could stretch so far that he was able to reach notes only dreamed of by other pianists.

Later in life, Rachmaninov was in such demand as a touring pianist that he was unable to devote much time to composition.  After 1918, he lived in America where he died on the 28th of March, 1943.  A few days later, on the 1st of April, he would have turned 70. 

When Rachmaninov fell ill, his doctors determined that he had advanced melanoma - and nothing could be done to save him.  His family was given the grim news, but not the maestro himself. 

He continued to perform, giving his last concert at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  Following that event, he was so ill he had to return to his Beverly Hills home.

Although he wished to be buried at his estate in Switzerland, where he'd recreated the environment of his Russian family home, the world was still at war when he died.  Three-and-a-half years after his 2nd piano concerto was interrupted, as German bombs knocked-out the power of Warsaw Radio, Sergei Rachmaninov was laid to rest at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.


Media Credits

Image online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

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